The One Thing Paul Did
12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by life and our efforts to live a life honoring Jesus. You desire to grow in your faith and to know Jesus more. But then you look at the Bible and think, “That is a lot to learn”. The beauty is that there is a lot to learn, which means I can look forward to learning more about Him every day for the rest of my life. There will always be new and exciting revelations as I grow in my knowledge of Him. But yes, that also means you won’t learn it all today. However, don’t let that overwhelm you. Be excited that Jesus has something new for you to learn about Him today, tomorrow and every day.
In the verses that precede these verses above, Paul is talking about knowing Christ. Paul’s purpose is to know Jesus more intimately each day, to grow in that “knowing” of Jesus progressively. Paul was not overwhelmed by the things he did not yet know. He was moving ahead every day in anticipation of knowing Jesus more intimately when he laid his head down at the end of every day than he had when the day had begun. Paul says clearly that he had not yet fully attained this knowledge of Jesus, but he does tell us the one important thing he has learned in the process. Note that Paul says “one thing I do”. That is a clear indication that this is an elementary part of his daily growth and intimate knowledge of Jesus. This also tells me I should probably learn this lesson from Paul and apply that lesson to my daily efforts to know Jesus.
Here is the elementary rule or reminder that Paul says he does in his quest to know Jesus more today than yesterday. Forget the past and look ahead. That does not sound all that earth-shattering until we realize that we usually do the exact opposite. We tend to dwell on the past and fear the future. Think about it. How easy is it for you let go of past disappointments or failures? When you think about your future, does it bring you peace and anticipation or rather does it fill you with uncertainty or more likely dread and fear?
All of us have prayed about things and not seen the results we were hoping for. Our tendency is that the next time we pray, we look back and recall our failure. In so doing we erode our faith to believe what is before us because we are looking backward and feeding our doubts.
Heed the success of Paul and don’t look back. The more you know Jesus by spending time with Him, the easier it becomes to look forward with hope and expectancy and the easier it is to believe, which then enables us to receive. How important is it for us to look ahead and not look backward? Paul had the greatest revelation of the new covenant relationship we have with Jesus and he said this is the one thing that “I do”. It is a foundation for our growth in knowing Him.
J Todd Hostetler